Art review: Leon Kossoff – London Landscapes, Annely Juda Fine Art, London

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


A small correction. Kossoff does not paint landscapes. He paints and draws the cityscapes of London, and he has been doing so for the last sixty years or so.

Recently he painted and drew a heroically decrepit cherry tree in an urban garden, but, generally speaking, nature is present almost by default. He is 86 years old now, and the most recent works in this show, a suite of drawings dated 2012, see him returning to Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, the locale of his childhood, much changed since his boyhood days as the son of a Jewish baker.

Kossoff is utterly besotted by London, and its physical metamorphoses. If the Blitz and its aftermath had not happened, Kossoff might just have been temped to invent it. It's a smutty place, Kossoff's London, congested, seething, murky, messy, relentlessly itself, and usually rendered in a mixture of charcoal and pastel.

Just imagine the sight of his finger ends. He used to draw and paint it in a mood akin to frenzy, with ferocious slashings and wrigglings of marks. The colours were most often sombre - greys edging off to black. He has always loved architectural decrepitude, often seen from a fairly high view point: gantries; a gasometer ; the demolition site; conventionally unlovely industrial locations; places between places; grubby edgelands.

Bridges fling themselves from one bank to another like a headlong flourish of muscle. In some of his best drawings, he has shown us railway tracks in the half-light peeling away from us into a kind of blurry nowhere. Or the silvery bullet nose of a train – like some wild apparition – speeding by the end of a garden, half hidden by a tree. His people are frenzied bit players, puppet-like often, utterly humdrum in appearance. They exist to prove to us that nothing ever stops or falters – at the market, in the riotously overcrowded swimming pool, outside Embankment underground station.

But in the last year something has changed a little. These late drawings of Arnold Circus are a little different in touch and mood. The atmosphere seems to have lightened, mellowed. These drawings of the green space at the circus's centre, its architectural features – flights of steps, a balustrade, a bandstand-like structure – feel almost harmonious. The drawings seem less pulverised into life. Perhaps Kossoff has reconciled himself somewhat to the idea that places change and change again, and that at a certain moment of ahness we find ourselves capable of registering that flow with a touch more serenity.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk